NJ MUSLIM LEAVES SCHOOL OVER ROTC HIJAB CONFLICT
SANDY HOOK, NJ - Mona Elgohail is a Muslim teen who has excelled academically throughout her elementary and middle school years. She has a love of the ocean, marine biology and science. "She was an excellent student - not just academically - she was well rounded. She was a good leader who made a wonderful contribution to the student body," said Dr. Martha Wallauer, principal and superintendent at Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. When she was in 5th grade, her teacher, Kevin Bolger, told her about the program at M.A.S.T.
The Marine Academy of Science and Technology, located at Sandy Hook is part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD) which administers the special vocational high schools in the County, including: High Technology High School, Academy of Allied Health & Science, Communications High School, and M.A.S.T. Slots at the schools are hard to come by. Entry is very competitive.
Mona was an 8th grade honors student at Henry Hudson seeking a greater challenge so she took the entry exam for M.A.S.T in February 2003. She was accepted and attended an information session at the school in May. She also attended a freshman picnic in June, but it wasn't until August when the new students were issued their uniforms that anyone brought up the topic of her scarf, according to Mona's mother, Nemera Elgohail...
Dr. Christopher said "I tried to do everything to meet her needs based on her religion.." He shared with Mona and her parents the regulations from the Department of the Navy. "There is nothing in the regs to provide leeway for her religious garb."
The Elgohail's also met with Dr. Brian McAndrew, Superintendent of Schools for MCVSD. Dr. McAndrew said he explained that the protocol that NJROTC uses comes from the U.S. Department of the Navy. "If you want to wear a military uniform you must wear it according to the protocols."
Dr. McAndrew noted that military and veterans hold great respect for the uniform and to alter it would not be welcomed by them.
He said the Navy regulations would permit a yarmulke, a skullcap worn by Jewish men and boys, especially those adhering to Orthodox or Conservative Judaism, to be worn under the NJROTC uniform cap.
Dr. McAndrew said it is a question of choice, and the choice to leave is with the student. "We will not put any student in a situation where they have to leave. It would never be a point of 'wear the uniform or leave'…"
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will hold a news conference today to demand that federal terrorism charges be brought against an Illinois man who got off with just two years probation and 'anger management' classes after he bombed a Muslim family's van.
WHEN: Tuesday, September 23, 1 p.m. (Central)
WHERE: In front of the Dirksen Federal Building, 230 S. Dearborn, Chicago, Ill.
CONTACT: 312-922-4720 or 708-415-7927
Eric K. Nix, 24, was sentenced last week in the 5th District of Cook County Circuit Court (case 03CR0945401) after being charged with arson, criminal damage to property and committing a hate crime. In March, Nix threw an explosive device into the van of a Burbank, Ill., Palestinian Muslim family. The van's door was blown off, shattered glass was thrown up to 30 feet away and a hole was punched in the vehicle's floor.
Nix will be on probation until September 15, 2005. He previously served a 30-day sentence for throwing a brick into an Arab furniture store in suburban Chicago two days after the 9/11 attacks.
"It is unfathomable that a perpetrator of two anti-Muslim hate crimes, including a terrorist bombing, would be let off with a slap on the wrist and 'anger management' classes," said CAIR National Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. "It goes without saying that the result would have been much different had the perpetrator been Muslim or Arab. If the Justice Department wants to prove that it is serious about combating anti-Muslim hate, it must take up this and similar cases at the national level."
Ahmad cited a Florida case in which a man was sentenced to just 12 years in prison for plotting to attack some 50 Islamic institutions in that state, including a school, as another example of light sentencing for anti-Muslim terrorism.
Since the beginning of this year, CAIR has received a number of reports of physical assaults against American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions. Those incidents included a recent arson attack on a Georgia Mosque, a cross burning at a Maryland Islamic school, the kidnapping and beating of a Massachusetts pizza delivery man whose attackers thought he was Muslim, and the shooting of a Sikh man in Arizona who may have been mistaken for an Arab. Similar incidents have been reported in a number of other states. CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 offices nationwide and in Canada.
(COLUMBUS, OH, 9/20/2003) - The Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) has been selected to receive the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio's (ACLU-Ohio) annual Liberty's Flame Award for contributions to the advancement and protection of civil liberties.
The award will be presented at a program and reception on Saturday, October 25, in Columbus, Ohio. Professor Mark Brown of Capital University will be the keynote speaker.
"It is a privilege and honor to be recognized by an organization with such a long history of defending civil rights," said Dr. Ahmad Al-Akhras, president of CAIR-Ohio. "This award is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of CAIR-Ohio's staff and volunteers."
CAIR-Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio have been working together on projects defending the constitutional rights of Muslims.
There are an estimated 150,000 Muslims in Ohio, 7 million in the United States, and 1.2 billion worldwide.
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 offices nationwide and in Canada.
- END -